Dialysis: McGrigor reaction to Health Secretary response

The Cabinet Secretary for Health, Alex Neil, has replied to Jamie McGrigor, Highlands & Islands MSP, about the lack of a dialysis unit in Argyll & Bute.

Jamie wrote to the Health Secretary after being contacted by Councillor Donald Kelly (Argyll First, South Kintyre) and by some Argyll constituents who, as dialysis patients, face frequent and lengthy journeys for dialysis treatment outwith Argyll & Bute.

Some dialysis patients from the Campbeltown area have to travel to the Vale of Leven hospital three times a week.

The Cabinet Secretary said that, in 2012, NHS Highland looked into the viability of providing a low level dialysis unit at Oban’s Lorn & Islands Hospital, and that the Inverness-based health board “...is committed to revisiting the findings in that report in 2015/16, to assess whether advances in technology and changes to forecasted need or demand supports development of a business case for the establishment of a low maintenance dialysis unit in Argyll & Bute”.

Commenting on the Cabinet Secretary’s response, Jamie McGrigor said:

“My constituents who are dialysis patients will very much hope that NHS Highland does decide to establish a dialysis unit in Argyll & Bute in 2015/16.

“While any new service in Oban would of course be welcome, the problem for my constituents in Campbeltown is that a journey to Oban is 90 miles each way which, although less than the 115 mile journey each way to the Vale of Leven hospital, is still far too far for a kidney dialysis patient.

“A journey from Campbeltown to Lochgilphead, in comparison, is around 51 miles, and this is why it was suggested as the most appropriate location within Argyll & Bute, although obviously a satellite unit in Campbeltown Hospital would be the ideal option for those in Kintyre, especially given that NHS Highland have recently transferred support from the Argyll & Bute budget due to an underspend.

“I would urge my constituents who have concerns to continue to make representations to NHS Highland on this subject”.

South Kintyre Argyll First Councillor Donald Kelly said:

“I initially thought that, being central, a Lochgilphead-based unit would make sense and be more achievable.  However, given the Minister’s response, I will now be campaigning for a dedicated unit to be established in Campbeltown.

“The cost associated with providing this service will be considerable.  NHS Highland have, in this financial year, due to an underspend, transferred approximately £1.3 million from the Argyll & Bute budget to support Raigmore Hospital in Inverness which has gone over budget.  Given this information, I feel that, from a financial prospective, a dialysis unit in Campbeltown can be fully justified”.

A copy of the Cabinet Secretary’s letter to Jamie McGrigor can be viewed by clicking on the link below.


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Letter, dated 10.3.14, from Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing to Jamie McGrigor MSP 86.19 KB